Science fiction is the greatest genre of fiction ever. It drives social change, by shrouding political commentary in protective otherness and extrapolating a future based on current trajectory. Progressive thinking thrives in science fiction, and gives a platform for reason, science, and wonder to paint our universe.
Then where the hell are our science fiction social games? There’s a few of course, there’s the edgy Edgeworld, the deep Legacy of a Thousand Suns from those clever 5th Planet guys, and my own private addiction Lucky Space. However, the majors are staying away, citing low interest scores.
Unfortunately, they’re not alone. Among science fiction and fantasy book publishers, fantasy and young adult outsell everything by a wide margin. This is particularly distressing, since I may be part of the trend. I’ve been buying and reading fantasy and YA, most notably The Hunger Games, more than ever before. But they’re a palate cleanser next to Ernest Cline’s masterful Ready Player One, and basically everything that Neal Stephenson and John Scalzi choose to write. And interestingly, any audiobook that Will Wheaton chooses to narrate. I know. Trust me.
On the blockbuster scale, sci-fi is hit or miss. For every Halo, there’s a Mass Effect that has to earn its audience. But that’s the challenge. Sci-fi seems to be allowed to flourish only when forced to do so. James Cameron can Steve Jobs his way to Avatar and JJ Abrams can reboot Star Trek, but beyond that there’s a force field that seems to cut more deeply for sci-fi than other original content.
Maybe I’m imagining things. Since it’s in vogue to explicitly disclose one’s biases, I will declare that I love science fiction. It’s helped me and others I know cope with ideas of otherness, tough choices, and moving your life forward. Plus it’s literally amazing. Robots, spaceships, aliens, what’s not to love? But still there’s something very real and pernicious at work here. I’m not a petition kind of guy, I just like to put my thumb on the scale here and there. But if you believe as I do, that science fiction is an essential piece of modern human culture, then raise your blaster with me, and buy more science fiction!